How to redeem miles for flights on LATAM
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Reader Questions are answered twice a week by Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.
Airline alliances such as Star Alliance and Oneworld are the bedrock on which much of global aviation is built, allowing passengers to travel to every corner of the world even if their hometown airline doesn't fly there. Recently Chilean carrier LATAM shocked the aviation industry when it announced it would be leaving the Oneworld alliance on the heels of a major equity investment from Delta. In light of this development, TPG Executive Editorial Director Scott Mayerowitz was struggling to find award flights for his parents. So, what are the best ways to redeem miles for flights on LATAM ...
[pullquote source="TPG EXECUTIVE EDITORIAL DIRECTOR SCOTT MAYEROWITZ"]With LATAM leaving the Oneworld alliance, what options do I have for redeeming miles for flights on LATAM?[/pullquote]
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While Delta and LATAM may eventually announce reciprocal mileage redemptions in the future, for now LATAM's exit from Oneworld makes it nearly impossible to redeem miles for flights operated by LATAM. You pretty much only have two options, neither of which are especially appealing.
The first choice would be to use the LATAM Pass program. LATAM Pass miles are pretty hard to earn, and for most people the only option is going to be to transfer points from Marriott Bonvoy at a 3:1 ratio, with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred. That is not a great deal. LATAM doesn't appear to have an award chart published on its website for flights on its own metal (as opposed to Oneworld partner airlines), but they do have a mileage calculator you can use to search for individual routes.
For example, a round-trip economy award from New York-JFK to Lima (LIM) costs 36,000 LATAM points, or 135,500 in business class. If you backtrack, that means you'd need to transfer 93,000 Marriott points to fly economy or 331,000 to fly business class.
The other option is to bypass a points transfer entirely, and instead leverage a pay-with-points bonus like you'll find on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and several Amex business charge cards. For example, this round-trip economy flight from JFK to Lima would normally cost $614, but my Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a 50% bonus when I redeem my points directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.
This means I can book the flight for 40,926 Ultimate Rewards points, and because this booking is treated like a cash ticket I'll even earn miles on the flight (though figuring out where to credit them with LATAM leaving Oneworld is an entirely different challenge).
Related: The ultimate guide to Amex Pay With Points
The options for booking award flights on LATAM are dwindling with the airline set to leave the Oneworld alliance by the end of next year, but you do still have a few choices.
The first is to leverage LATAM Pass, the carrier's frequent flyer program, and top up your account by transferring points from Marriott. The second is to use your points to book a cash ticket and take advantage of a pay-with-points bonus, freeing you from worrying about transfer ratios and finding award availability.
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